LAHORE: Business circles demanded of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) to associate their sit-ins with the construction of Kalabagh Dam if they were really holding the sit-ins for the country.
Former senior Vice President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former Chairman of Pakistan Poultry Association Abdul Basit representing business community in a statement on Monday said the whole nation would support the long march of PTI and PAT if they would hold for the cause of Kalabagh Dam.
Country’s survival lies in Kalabagh Dam and if these politicians are sincere with the country or the nation, they should put the construction of Kalabagh Dam on the top of their respective agendas but unfortunately the petty issues were given preference on Kalabagh Dam.
Basit said all those who were opposing the Kalabagh Dam were enemies of this country as they were playing with the country‘s future. He said the only because of government’s silence over Kalabagh Dam, country was suffering a loss of Rs 132 billion annually. He said there was no threat to Nowshehra city as it was 150 feet above the water level.
He said Dam was not only beneficial to Punjab alone but it would be more helpful in erasing poverty from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as it would irrigate 800,000 acres of cultivable land that was located 100-150 feet above the Indus River level in the province. He said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level was raised that was only possible if Kalabagh Dam was built.
He said the other alternative was to pump the water, which was very costly. Creditable studies have indicated that pumping water for potential cultivable land would cost farmers Rs 5,000 per acre per year while canal water after construction of Kalabagh Dam would cost only Rs 400 per acre per year.
He said the politicians opposing the construction of the dam were in fact enemies of the people of province. Historical data indicates during past 75 years average 146 million acres of water is available per year in River Indus.
He said Kalabagh Dam issue has been so much politicised that a consensus would not be possible. The political leadership is manipulating the issue for their advantage. He said civil society would have to play a crucial role in creating a larger consensus. Basit said further delay in gathering a consensus from all stakeholders on the construction of unduly politicised Kalabagh Dam would cost this country and its coming generations very dearly.
He said all the stakeholders should show some greater maturity on the issue of Kalabagh. It is the high time all undue stands should be brushed aside to save the country from that era of darkness. He said unlike Pakistan, India was constructing dams at every possible site. It has left us decades behind and coming time does not promise any good thing either.
According to a conservative estimate, about 30 million acre feet of water is being wasted into the sea because the country has no big water reservoirs to store it and more importantly, as a result of melting of glaciers due to global warming, a sword of Damocles remains hanging over our heads in the shape of floods. An opinion gained widespread support across the country that the losses of recent floods in Pakistan, which are estimated to be more than $45 billion could have been reduced if big dams and water reservoirs were in place.
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